Fidel Castro Retires

Fidel Castro has finally resigned the presidency of Cuba.

Fidel Castro Retires Cuban leader Fidel Castro poses in this photo taken by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva during their meeting in Havana January 15, 2008. REUTERS/Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva/CubaVision TV/Handout Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro said on Tuesday that he will not return to lead the country as president or commander-in-chief, retiring as head of state 49 years after he seized power in an armed revolution.

Castro, 81, who has not appeared in public for almost 19 months after undergoing stomach surgery, said in a message to the communist nation that he would not seek a new presidential term when the National Assembly meets on February 24.

“To my dear compatriots, who gave me the immense honor in recent days of electing me a member of parliament … I communicate to you that I will not aspire to or accept — I repeat not aspire to or accept — the positions of President of Council of State and Commander in Chief,” Castro said in the statement published on the Web site of the Communist Party’s Granma newspaper.

The National Assembly or legislature is expected to nominate his brother and designated successor Raul Castro, 76, as president. Raul Castro has been running the country since emergency surgery to stop intestinal bleeding forced Castro to delegate power on July 31, 2006.

Since the United States placed sanctions on Cuba in 1962, Castro has managed to outlast John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Another year, and he’d have been able to add George W. Bush to the list, too.

The formal announcement of that which has been all but obvious for well over a year won’t change much of anything. The good news is that Raul is unlikely to last 49 years in office. Hopefully, a real transition will happen soon.

As an aside, an Aididas track suit is far less imposing than his traditional combat fatigues. Then again, he looks pretty good for an 81-year-old in deteriorating health.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DaveD says:

    It’s probably just me but I saw the pic before the headline and thought is was an ill Willie Nelson.

  2. legion says:

    [warning! old fart joke!]
    Yeah, he’ll probably just be replaced by Generalissimo Fransisco Franco…